Police Arrest Gang Members Allegedly Posing As Vigilante, Others

The crest of the Nigeria Police Force is seen on a police officer’s uniform. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV.

 

The Edo State Police Command says it has arrested five armed gang members allegedly disguising as vigilante members and robbing unsuspecting members of the public around Textile Mill Road area in Benin City.

According to a statement by a police spokesman, acting on credible information, the DPO Textile Mill Road SP Olayinka Adeleye mobilized his team of operatives and arrested the suspects who claimed to be vigilante members working under a commander nicknamed Dada.

SP Adeleye said the suspects are cooperating with the investigation and are giving useful information that will lead to the arrest of other conspirators operating under the guise of being vigilantes.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Remand Of Two Teenagers Over Alleged Murder Of RCCG Pastor

He added that the suspects will be charged to court at the end of the investigation.

Similarly, two suspected members of a gang said to have been terrorizing Campus II South Ibie, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State.

The police statement disclosed that the Divisional Police Officer, (DPO) South Ibie, CSP Emmanuel Agbo received information that some armed robbers were hibernating within the area and immediately swung into action.

Agbo mobilized his team of police surveillance and detectives, and they stormed the criminal’s hideout, arresting the duo of Bishop Christopher ‘M’ (22), John Abuda ‘M’ (24).

The team of operatives also recovered one English pistol, two live ammunition and a battle axe from the suspects.

Police authorities say the suspects have confessed to terrorizing campus II SOUTH IBIE area and its environs, however, investigations are still ongoing with the aim of arresting other fleeing gang members.

According to the police, the suspects will be charged to court at the end of investigations.

Benin Kingdom Takes Legal Possession Of Repatriated Bronzes

 

The Oba of Benin Oba Ewuare II on Monday received the legal documents of the deed of transfer of the return of the bronze cockerel and the Oba bronze head recently handed over to Nigeria in the United Kingdom.

The legal documents were perfected at the palace of the Oba of Benin when signatories to the documents appended their signatures in the presence of the royal family, traditional rulers from different parts of Nigeria, as well as friends and well-wishers of the Benin monarch.

READ ALSO: Another UK University Officially Hands Over Looted Benin Bronze

The Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Tunji Ishola, who also appended his signature, said he’s already in physical possession of the bronzes but according to English law, a deed of transfer was imperative.

The signed documents were eventually officially handed over to the Oba.

This comes as Oba Ewuare II marks the fifth anniversary of his coronation.

‘Model For Nigerian Youths’: Edo Government Congratulates Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman celebrates punches Colby Covington in their welterweight title bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021, in New York City. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Edo State Government has congratulated undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, who successfully defended his world title against American challenger, Colby Covington.

The Auchi-born fighter knocked down his challenger twice in the second round in the title fight which took place at the famous Madison Square Garden, New York, United States.

The letter from the office of the Deputy Governor, Edo State Government, described the reigning UFC welterweight champion as a shining star and a true reflection of what the Nigerian youth should represent.

“You are a true role model for the Nigerian youths and we want the Nigerian youths to emulate you by bringing glory and honour to the nation rather than engage in cybercrime, drug, and other vices,” the letter said.

READ ALSO: Alvarez Knocks Out Plant To Make Super Middleweight History

The Motivation

At the post-fight briefing, Usman who visited Nigeria in June this year after twenty years of being away confirmed he got some motivation from his country.

“It was a great trip, I really got a chance to go and see how me competing in the way that I do, does for not just to the country of Nigeria but to the continent of Africa. Of course, it’s extra motivation, extra feel each and every time I step in there,” the champ acknowledged.

The state government also commended the Nigerian Nightmare for keeping to his promise to “give back to the society that made him by being a role model to the younger generation.”

“We are ready to receive you again and again whenever you are in Nigeria. You are a true patriot and our ambassador of sports; we are proud of you and indeed, Nigerians are proud of you. Be assured that we shall continue to pray for you to get to the zenith. We are looking forward to partnering with you in discovering and nurturing young talents in the area of kickboxing, ” the letter stressed.

Usman joined the UFC in 2015 and is unbeaten after 19 title fights. His first fight with Covington in 2019 ended in a knockout in the 5th round. He has recorded 15 straight victories and is just one fight away from equaling Anderson Silva’s record of 16 straight wins.

Ranching Is Private Business, Acknowledge Edo Method – Obaseki Tells FG

 

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said that ranching is a private business and must be treated as such.

Speaking after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday, Obaseki said Edo people would rather invest privately in the ranching business. Obaseki told newsmen at the State House that the clashes between farmers and herders could be resolved with a full implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP).

He, however, urged the Federal Government to “acknowledge” the Edo State model. Throwing some more light on the model of his state, Obaseki said those involved in ranching are expected to provide the land.

The governor stated that during his interaction with President Buhari, he tabled his people’s opinion as regards the ranching practice. Further making a case for his state, Obaseki said the NLTP should be able to “help Edo people benefit from the funding that is now being made available for people who want to go into the livestock business and have made investments in ranches and other similar livestock programmes,”.

Obaseki explained that the private view of the ranching exercise is a key reason the Edo State Government is yet to promulgate a law banning open grazing.

“As you know, most southern states have passed laws relating to open grazing but Edo State has not. Because we want to ensure that whatever laws we pass are laws that we can enforce.”

At the briefing, the governor also debunked rumours suggesting that he would be returning to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He stated that as a politician of repute, his conscience would not allow him to betray those who gave him shelter when there was a political storm.

Obaseki explained that he did not leave the APC on his own terms, but was forced out, an action he says will not allow him to leave the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)where he got support in his time of need.

“I think I’ve shown that I’m a politician with integrity and I have made it very clear that I didn’t leave the other party on my own. I was pushed out of the party, and someone else gave me cover, gave me an opportunity.

“It will not be the right thing to do to now leave who helped you, who gave you the umbrella in your storm, and then go back to the person who pushed you out.”

READ ALSO: [Defection Rumours] I Won’t Return To Where I Was Pushed Out – Obaseki

A Case For E-Transmission 

President Muhammadu Buhari in an elbow bump with Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State during the governor’s visit to the Nigerian leader at the State House on Wednesday, September 13th, 2021. Photo: Facebook/Femi Adesina.

 

Reacting to the Senate’s decision to reverse its earlier resolution on electronic transmission of election results, Governor Obaseki said he remains a proponent of the course.

According to the governor, PDP would not have won the last election in Edo State, but for the deployment of technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“If not for the technology utilised by INEC, and God, I may not be governor today. So, I am one of those people who believe that we cannot and should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units, because for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be assured that your vote will count.

“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it from my elections, that as soon as you voted, and the results have been counted in the polling units, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what you expect to be collated at the ward collation points.

“What has happened in many cases in the past is that people go and vote, the votes are counted in the polling units. They know, but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.

“But this time around, because of the transparency, everybody will see and know what they are expecting to be collated from the polling units. That is what happened in my election.

“So, I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results from elections and I want to also note that from my personal experience, INEC has the capacity, INEC has the technology, and also the understanding of how these things should work,” Obaseki said.

 

Defection Rumours: I Won’t Return To Where I Was Pushed Out – Obaseki

 

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has again said that he has no intention of returning to the All Progressives Congress (APC), where he was pushed out.

Governor Obaseki gave the reassurance on Wednesday while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The governor stated that as a politician of repute, his conscience would not allow him betray those who gave him shelter when there was a political storm.

He explained that he did not leave the APC on his own terms, but was forced out, an action which he says will not allow him to leave the People’s Democratic Party where he got support in his time of need.

“I think I’ve shown that I’m a politician with integrity and I have made it very clear that I didn’t leave the other party on my own, I was pushed out of the party, and someone else gave me cover, gave me an opportunity.

“It will not be the right thing to do to now leave who helped you, who gave you the umbrella in your storm, and then go back to the person who pushed you out.”

Reacting to the Senate’s decision to reverse its earlier resolution on electronic transmission of election results, Governor Obaseki said he remains a proponent of the course.

According to Obaseki, PDP would not have won the last election in Edo State, but for the deployment of technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“If not for the technology utilised by INEC, and God, I may not be governor today. So, I am one of those people who believe that we cannot and should not have elections in this country, going into the future, without transmitting results electronically from the polling units, because for elections to be credible, they have to be seen as transparent and once you have voted, you should be assured that your vote will count.

“With technology today, it is possible and INEC has shown it from my elections, that as soon as you voted, and the results have been counted in the polling units, then that result should be made available, such that you already know what you expect to be collated at the ward collation points.

“What has happened in many cases in the past is that people go and vote, the votes are counted in the polling units, they know, but by the time it gets to the collation point, it changes.

“But this time around, because of the transparency, everybody will see and know what they are expecting to be collated from the polling units. That is what happened in my election.

“So, I am a very strong advocate for electronic transmission of results from elections and I want to also note that from my personal experience, INEC has the capacity, INEC has the technology, and also the understanding of how these things should work. So, they should be encouraged. I hope and pray that the President will assent to that bill,” the governor declared

UNIBEN Students Continue Protest Amid Closure Of University

UNIBEN Seeks Better Funding As FG Delegation Inspects Projects
A front view photo of the UNIBEN campus.

 

Students of the University of Benin have continued with their protest for the second day to air their grievances against a recent decision of the school authorities to impose an additional N20,000 for late registration.

Following the increment, the aggrieved students had stormed the Benin-Lagos expressway in protest on Tuesday, causing gridlock on the ever-busy federal road.

They also ignored the call by the management of the school for all students to vacate the campus as the Students Union Government (SUG) is reported to have blocked the school’s entrance preventing the students from leaving the premises.

The institution’s management had ordered all students to vacate their hostels and the campus no later than 12 noon on Wednesday following what they considered to be security concerns after they (students) blocked the main gate of the school in protest.

Speaking to Channels Television, a student asked the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami to consider their plight and reverse the decision.

READ ALSO: UNIBEN Students Block Highway, Protest Increased Late Registration Fee

“We came out today and we are telling you that we want you to take this fee back to normal,” he said.

“What we want, you know it. Take the school fees back to normal,” he said amid support from other students.

Another student of the school asked for kind consideration from the school authorities, insisting that things are tough.

She said, “It is anti-student. We all know what the situation of the economy in the country is. It is not easy for anybody, including our parents. All we are asking from our Vice-Chancellor is to be lenient with us.

“It is not as if we are not going to pay, we are going to pay.  There is no money anywhere; we are struggling to feed in school.”

Meanwhile, on arriving at the Ugbowo campus of the institution, Channels Television observed that a student had collapsed from an epileptic seizure while protesting.

COVID-19: Edo Govt Workers Without Vaccination Cards Barred From Offices

 

It was not business as usual on Wednesday in Edo State as civil servants who failed to show a COVID-19 Vaccination card were barred from entering their offices.

This followed the announcement by the State Government on Tuesday that it will begin enforcing the ‘no-vaccination-no-work’ policy.

“We have trained special teams and these special teams will be spread across the 18 local governments of Edo State.

“What we are going to do tomorrow is to allow those who have the authentic vaccination card, access to their government working places and those without, can go back and work from home and government will know how to deal with that,” the Head of the COVID-19 Enforcement Team in the state, Haruna Yusuf, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

 

Government workers in Edo State were greeted with the ‘no-card-no-entry’ banner on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, as the state government begins taking stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This comes amid speculations that the state government is working towards making vaccination compulsory for all residents.

However, Governor Godwin Obaseki in a statement last week described the reports as an “obvious misconception”.

He had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.

 

A security man checks in a worker at the entrance on September 15, 2021.

 

So far, Edo State has recorded 6,008 COVID-19 cases.

It has also recorded the second-highest death toll in the country (215) – justifying talks about the ‘compulsory vaccination’, as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Below is a breakdown of the COVID-19 cases across Nigeria.

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos75,3242,31072,350664
FCT21,01269920,134179
Rivers11,55782610,583148
Kaduna9,381919,22268
Plateau9,255649,13061
Oyo8,5717347,650187
Edo6,0085715,222215
Ogun5,336645,19379
Ondo4,3464063,85783
Akwa Ibom4,2366403,55442
Kano4,136533,971112
Kwara3,7084423,20759
Delta3,2125712,55685
Osun2,818342,69985
Enugu2,6751122,53429
Nasarawa2,426422,34539
Gombe2,334462,24345
Katsina2,214502,12935
Anambra2,173972,05719
Ebonyi2,059242,00332
Abia1,880501,80525
Imo1,784951,65039
Ekiti1,6583011,33225
Bauchi1,568131,53817
Benue1,512701,41824
Borno1,34401,30638
Bayelsa1,1611271,00727
Adamawa1,155251,09832
Taraba1,074361,01424
Niger1,0016791420
Sokoto796276628
Jigawa5731254516
Cross River5531451821
Yobe50124909
Kebbi458943316
Zamfara25322438
Kogi5032

 

Edo Govt To Bar Unvaccinated Civil Servants From Work

 

The Edo State Government has announced that from Wednesday, September 15, all civil servants who are yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be barred from entering their offices.

The Head of the COVID-19 Enforcement Team in the state, Haruna Yusuf, disclosed this at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“We have trained special teams and these special teams will be spread across the 18 local governments of Edo State.

“What we are going to do tomorrow is to allow those who have the authentic vaccination card, access to their government working places and those without, can go back and work from home and government will know how to deal with that,” Yusuf said.

Read Also: ‘An Obvious Misconception’; Edo Govt Denies ‘Compulsory Vaccination’ For Residents

This comes amid speculations that the state government is working towards making vaccination compulsory for all residents.

However, Governor Godwin Obaseki in a statement last week described the reports as an “obvious misconception”.

He had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.

So far, Edo State has recorded 5,945 COVID-19 cases.

It has also recorded the second-highest death toll in the country (214) – justifying talks about the ‘compulsory vaccination’, as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.

 

Below is a breakdown of the COVID-19 cases across Nigeria.

 

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos75,2042,19072,350664
FCT20,95468120,094179
Rivers11,48383610,509138
Kaduna9,366819,21966
Plateau9,252989,09361
Oyo8,5407047,649187
Edo5,9455635,168214
Ogun5,332685,18579
Ondo4,2363013,85778
Akwa Ibom4,2366403,55442
Kano4,131673,952112
Kwara3,7084423,20759
Delta3,2015602,55685
Osun2,818342,69985
Enugu2,6751122,53429
Nasarawa2,426422,34539
Gombe2,333522,23645
Katsina2,214502,12935
Anambra2,173972,05719
Ebonyi2,059242,00332
Abia1,880501,80525
Imo1,784951,65039
Ekiti1,6583011,33225
Bauchi1,568131,53817
Benue1,512701,41824
Borno1,34401,30638
Adamawa1,153231,09832
Bayelsa1,1501161,00727
Taraba1,074361,01424
Niger1,0016791420
Sokoto796276628
Jigawa5731254516
Cross River5425246921
Yobe50124909
Kebbi458943316
Zamfara25322438
Kogi5032

‘An Obvious Misconception’; Edo Govt Denies ‘Compulsory Vaccination’ For Residents

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki (File Photo)

 

The Edo State Government has cleared the air over what it described as the “purported compulsory vaccination” of its residents with the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement signed on Wednesday, Governor Godwin Obaseki said it was an “obvious misconception” that the directive issued by the government was to make vaccination compulsory for all citizens.

Governor Obaseki had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.

But in Wednesday’s statement, the governor said the order which was given last Friday was, at best, speculative and pre-emptive as the scheduled date for the commencement of the enforcement of the directive by the state government is the second week of September.

He said this in reaction to an order by a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, directing the Government to maintain the status quo on the purported compulsory vaccination.

Governor Obaseki said: “Although the State Governor, in truth, has the power to make such an order under the Gazetted Quarantine Regulations, this directive is actually only a denial of access to public places of persons who chose not to be vaccinated.

“We believe government’s overriding concern is the safety and health of its citizens”.

The government’s intervention comes as Nigeria experiences a fresh spike in infections, and Edo becomes one of the top affected states.

The governor said Edo State is currently confronted with a situation wherein the Case Positivity Rate (CPR) for COVID-19 hovers between 15 and 25 per cent.

According to him, unvaccinated persons have accounted for 100 per cent of deaths in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“Government, therefore, finds it strange that some persons in purported pursuit of their fundamental human rights would embark on litigation tourism outside of our state, seek to become a source of public health danger and put at risk the safety and health of the larger population,” the statement read in part.

“Government owes a sacred duty to the populace to take all actions necessary to protect the health of the majority of the citizens and in this connection, an even greater quantity of vaccines is being secured for the use of the people of Edo State.

“The Edo State Government has, therefore, instructed its lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge all such orders in the courts from where they emanate and if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming its position as a law-abiding government.

“It must be made clear that Government shall continue to pursue all legal and administrative options available for the protection of the best interest of the good people of Edo State”.

Two Nigerian States Try Out COVID Vaccine Passes

A health worker holds a vaccine tube and a syringe as Nigeria commences the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination on August 16, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Two states, Edo and Ondo, are trying to introduce COVID-19 vaccine passes for access to public places and gatherings, in a bid to increase vaccination rates.

Health passes or vaccine passports, required for entry to places like restaurants, gyms and cinemas, are already in place in some European countries though they have triggered protests in France, Greece and Italy as unfair to the unvaccinated.

Introducing similar measures in Nigeria will be complicated in a country that has received less than 10 million vaccines for a population of more than 210 million people.

Southern Nigeria Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki last week gave residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from some places, including banks, receptions, churches and mosques.

“We have made adequate arrangements with security agencies to prevent anybody who doesn’t have vaccination cards from accessing any of these places,” Obaseki said.

Nigerians have so far been hesitant about taking the vaccine. As of Monday, only 2.8 million people had received a first dose, according to the agency in charge of the roll-out, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

“We would like to encourage governors to continue to provide leadership in the mobilisation of citizens to prioritise the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine,” NPHCDA director Faisal Shuaib said.

“We are particularly enthused by the example shown by the Governor of Edo State,” he added.

Another state in southern Nigeria, Ondo, has also given residents two weeks to take the shots.

“Evidence of vaccination will be the condition to access public places, churches, mosques,” information commissioner Donald Ojogo told local media.

Legendary Musician Sir Victor Uwaifo Is Dead

Sir Victor Uwaifo was a multi-talented musician was also a songwriter, sculptor and professor.
Sir Victor Uwaifo was a multi-talented musician was also a songwriter, sculptor and professor.

 

Veteran musician Victor Uwaifo has died at the age of 80.

He reportedly died on Saturday in Benin-City.

The multi-talented icon was also a songwriter, sculptor and professor.

Family members say they are in a terrible shock but will provide an official statement in due course.

Uwaifo was renowned for his mastery of the guitar and the flute.

READ ALSO: Veteran Nollywood Actor, Victor Olaotan, Is Dead

He won many musical awards both nationally and internationally.

His stagecraft and music prowess left millions of his fans in awe throughout his career.

He will be remembered for hit songs like ‘Mami Water’, ‘Joromi’ and ‘Guitar Boy’.

Watch one of our interviews with the late Uwaifo:

 

 

He was the first professional musician to be awarded the National Merit Honours of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).

Uwaifo served as Commissioner for Arts and Culture in Edo State between 2001 and 2003.

Buhari mourns

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the family and friends of the legendary musician.

In a statement signed by presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, the President said the entire country will miss him.

“President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with family, friends and associates of legendary musician and multi-talented artiste, Sir Victor Uwaifo, who passed on Saturday, leaving a legacy of successes in many areas of life, including academia and administration,” the statement said.

“The President joins the Nigerian music industry and performing artistes, home and abroad, in mourning the former first Honourable Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism (Edo State), who was also the first musician and instrumentalist to be given National Honours Merit, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) in 1983.

“President Buhari believes the renowned musician, with global appeal and recognitions, lived for many firsts, which include invitation to the State House by four presidents and Heads of State, and winner of a gold disc in Africa for his song, ‘Joromi’, released in 1965 at the age of 24.

“The President notes the glory that Sir Uwaifo brought to Nigeria through his international tours, and the active role he played in national development, returning to school to get a first degree at age 54 with first class honours, masters degree at 56, and a doctorate at 77.

“President Buhari prays for the soul of the departed musician, writer, sculptor, musical instrument inventor and university lecturer, knowing the entire country, particularly the music industry, will sorely miss him.”

Over 300 Nigerians Illegally Arrested, Languishing In Italian Jails – Ex-Commissioner

 

Osaze Osemwingie-Ero, a former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, has cried out regarding the plight of over 300 Nigerian youths ‘illegally’ detained in Italian prisons for contrived charges on mafia-related offences.

At a meeting with officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mr Osemwingie-Ero disclosed that he learned about the plight of the innocent young Nigerians during his wrongful detention in Italy.

According to the former commissioner, the young Nigerians are held in Italian maximum prisons because they do not have the resources to access an independent lawyer.

He said the prosecutors in Italy were manipulating the justice system against Nigerians, adding that it became clear to him that “he was a victim of racial discrimination, and manipulation of the Italian Justice System by a very corrupt prosecutor – Dr Stephano Casano”.

Narrating briefly his ordeal in Italy, Osemwingie-Ero said when he interviewed other Nigerians who were incarcerated for charges similar to those levelled against him, it was discovered that a certain ‘Green Bible’ and forged papers that were brought up as evidence against the commissioner, was the same evidence put forward against the others in custody.

Connecting Flight…

When in 2019, Osemwingie-Ero was getting aboard a connecting flight from Amsterdam to Germany, he could never have known that his brief trip would become an odyssey of 18 months in an Italian prison, for a crime he knew nothing about.

He was to meet with Yusuf Tuggar, the then Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, and the business was simply – the Benin Artifacts Campaign.

At the airport, security operatives picked him up, and swiftly, he was accused of being a member of what the Italian prosecutors called the ‘Nigerian Mafia’.

Article 416 Bis of the Italian Criminal Code outlines what a Mafia-type organization is and the punishment for perpetrators of these kinds of crimes.
According to the former commissioner, it is upon article 416 that many Nigerians are being detained in Italy, with no solid evidence of any crime committed.

Enters then a forged manual called the Green Bible.

Osemwingie-Ero said in a bid to add flesh to their accusations, the Italians produced in court, an evidence known as the Green Bible, which has been used to convict many Nigerians, especially those who had no qualitative legal representation.

“I decided to do the long trial, where the prosecutor was compelled to bring the evidence that he had against me or against the Nigerian association. Only for him to produce a forge manual that he called the Green Bible, which they have used to convict a lot of Nigerians over 200 Nigerians in Italy,” Osemwingie-Ero narrated.

He and his lawyers thoroughly went through the Green Bible and discovered myriads of discrepancies.

“For example, page 14 of that so called Green Bible, paragraph 3 stated that ‘we the criminal organization’ involve in A-Z were there; and I told the judge that I have never seen an organization that will write in their manual that they are a criminal organization.

“On page 31, 32 and 33 of that so called Green Bible, we have a 2017 event of the communique of the Green Circuit Association in Asaba in that book while on page 51 of that so called Green Bible, it said this book was written in 1978 by University of Benin students and I said, how can we have a communique of 2017 event inside a book that was written in 1978,” the former commissioner pointed out.

Unjustly detained

Mr Osemwingie-Ero called for the collaboration of all stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the media, among others to ensure the release of Nigerians unjustly detained in Italy, some of them facing up to 140years in prison.

“While I was there on the 28th of October, 70 Nigerians were arrested for the same Mafia related offences and the only thing they showed on the television was a kitchen knife as a proof of evidence. Meanwhile, they still use this article 416 bis of the Italian Mafia Criminal Code.

“On the 26th of September while I was still in prison, 20 Nigerians were convicted and sentenced to 140years in prison, they were convicted with this same forged Green Bible, I have a copy of it, this same Green Bible was what they used, and if you google Torino Chronicle of September 26, 2020 (page 8), you will see it there clearly.

“Their appeal is coming up on the 20th of September this year, after two years in prison, maximum security in Italy. The 70 Nigerians that were arrested, their trial is starting on the 17th of September this year as well.

“I am aware because I kept interacting with them, knowing more about the case before I was released on the 29th of May.”

According to him, his release was by God’s grace, adding that it cost him a lot of money to get good legal representation which these other Nigerians do not have at the moment.

Osemwingie-Ero who said he made a promise that he was going to create awareness for the release of those innocent Nigerians, expressed disappointment in ‘the fact’ that he did not get the support that he expected from the Nigerian government.

He explained that his then boss Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State called the Minister of Foreign Affairs to notify him of the Commissioner’s arrest and nothing was done to follow up the case.

“If that could happen to me, you can imagine the fate of ordinary Nigerians?” Osemwingie-Ero asked.

Turning the focus away from his plight in Italy, the former commissioner told the Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that he had come to notify the Commission of the predicaments of those Nigerians languishing in prison, held under article 416 bis of the Italian Mafia Criminal Code without any single evidence of those crimes committed.

On the next step of his advocacy, Osemwingie-Ero said he alongside his friends and family members will hold a protest next week, in front of the Italian Embassy, to let the world know “of the injustice that is being meted on us and those innocent Nigerians in prison”.

‘We will take it up’

In reaction to the ordeal he had narrated, Hon Dabiri-Erewa commiserated with the former Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs.

The NIDCOM CEO while emphasizing that key thing at the moment is the plight of Nigerians who the commissioner met in the Italian prison, explained that the first step would be to take up the case with the Attorney General’s office, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ms. Dabiri-Erewa said there are many cases of this nature that the AGF, Abubakar Malami handles, and that this case will be treated with the urgency that it deserves.

“Indeed if there are so many Nigerians in Italian prisons languishing for years, for an offence (they told you and you interacted with them) that they did not commit, we can’t just watch and see that happen.”

According to the NIDCOM Chairman, the Commission will be thorough about the case, adding that every legal avenue will be explored.